Animal Stunts - Pets


My family’s population changes rapidly. We recently introduced two new members to the household: Speedy and Brownie Goldfish. Brownie was brownish and Speedy was gold with white dots. They were the most unusual goldfish in the tank at the store and Finn picked them out himself. Like his mom, he can’t have anything ordinary. Who wants goldfish that are really gold?

Apparently I made a rookie mother mistake by buying two very distinctive looking goldfish. They didn’t blend into the goldfish crowd. Now I know that you should buy only ordinary looking plain gold goldfish which can easily be substituted for one another. Too late for that.

Our new pets were a disaster from the beginning. It soon became clear that Speedy was fast and aggressive and was preventing Brownie from eating. Speedy overate each day while Brownie grew visibly thinner. In desperation, I bought two types of fish food—flakes that floated on the top for Speedy, and chunks that sank to the bottom of the bowl, where Brownie spent most of his time hunkering down in fear.

Each evening, with Bill and the boys anxiously watching, I’d sprinkle the flakes on the surface of the water. When Speedy swam up for the food, I’d strategically aim chunks at Brownie so they would float down to him and he could eat. In the background the boys cheered, “Go Brownie! You can do it!”

Brownie did begin to eat, but by then the water was growing cloudy and even Speedy was no longer living up to his name. Friday morning when I went to Finn’s room to get his underwear I discovered the worst—a floater (Speedy) and a sinker (Brownie).

I kept Finn out of his room until carpool. Once we were safely loaded in the van, I casually mentioned that Brownie and Speedy did not look so good to me and that I thought I would take them to the fish doctor after Jazzercise. I told him that doctors are very talented, but they cannot always save sick fish, and so we should pray for Speedy and Brownie in case they did not recover.

So in our driveway we prayed, “Dear God: Please help Brownie and Speedy get well if it is your will. If not, please take care of them in fish heaven. Amen.” Then we picked up the Sherlocks and I dropped everyone at school.

As I drove to Jazzercise, I mulled over the implications of the weakened condition of our fish and the probability that fish fatalities were in our future. It was obvious that I had to take some sort of action quickly. Should I buy look-a-likes for Speedy and Brownie, or should I let our boys experience death first hand?

Stupid me. I shouldn’t have spent so much time on this issue, as I discovered at the pet store that we had evidently bought the only two goldfish in our town that were not solid gold. There were no Speedy and Brownie imposters at all. Apparently the boys would have to face death head on.

I decided to use a different strategy and asked to see the toughest fish they had. A skinny teenager showed me some Bettas, most of which were blue, and told me they were just about impossible to kill. That seemed like a good recommendation to me so I bought an ordinary looking blue one and a net.

Having taken some action, I went to work, where I took a second to research Bettas on the internet. I discovered that they are also called Siamese fighting fish and males cannot live with other males or they will fight to the death.

I hadn’t been at the office ten minutes when the school called to say that I needed to pick up Drew immediately because he was showing signs of pinkeye. I assured them I was on my way, which was a lie because first I had to go home and dispose of the fish corpses so that Finn would not see them.

I sped home and jumped out of the car with the new blue fish and the net. By this time Brownie was also floating and I scooped him from the fishbowl with the net and flushed him with no trouble. When I tried to scoop Speedy, he moved and began to wriggle feebly. He was alive, sort of.

What a moral dilemma! I already had the Betta and I had no idea if Speedy was male or female. I certainly didn’t want to stage a fatal fish fight in front of the kids. After some reflection, I let Speedy swim around the toilet bowl a few times and then I euthanized him. I don’t think he would have lasted long anyway.

I flushed several times in case he got stuck in the lines, recovered and started swimming toward home. Then I drove to school and picked up Drew, who just had a red eye as far as I could tell.

When Finn came home, I told him that sadly, Brownie and Speedy did not make it. However, the fish doctor just happened to have a blue fish that had belonged to a five year old boy who did not take care of him, and that I knew that Finn was responsible so I volunteered to adopt him. Finn was thrilled with his cool blue fish and named him Max.

Now we pray nightly for Speedy and Brownie and I keep a close eye on Max for signs that he’s fading.